Welcome to the online review smackdown featuring Google in one corner, Facebook in the other, and spam problems all over.

Google and Facebook are the two biggest players in the online review space right now, and they are considered “major” review sites (Yelp being the other). Both Google and Facebook reviews offer unique advantages to small businesses. Your review generation strategy should include where you want to get reviews, like Google, and why.

In this post, we’ll go through the key differences between Google reviews and Facebook “recommendations” to help you develop a smarter review generation strategy for your business. Each review site has its benefits, but as you’ll see, they are quite different. I’ll end with a recommendation for which review site you should focus on most.

Google Reviews

Process for leaving a Google review

You probably know what Google reviews are because if you haven’t written one, you’ve most likely read one. Google reviews are reviews left for businesses, by customers of those businesses, on Google platforms, namely Google Search and Google Maps. The reviews show up on your Google Business Profile, which is how your business is displayed on Google Search and Maps.

Customers rate your business out of five stars and can leave feedback, as well as select from positive attributes that Google provides, depending on your type of business. Google reviews help you attract more customers from local search results on Google. This is a big deal, as Google controls more than 90% of the search engine market share worldwide.

Reviews help you rank higher on Google Maps and in local Google search results. In fact, Google says so here:

“High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”

Google Business Profile Help

If you want to show up when people search “[your type of business] near me,” then Google reviews are the place for you to focus. Positive customer reviews on your Google Business Profile will help you get found and chosen by more new customers. Just like with any customer feedback, Google reviews are a useful tool to listen to your customers and improve your business.

Facebook Recommendations

Process for leaving a Facebook recommendation

In 2018, Facebook switched from reviews to “recommendations.”

The most obvious difference between Google reviews and Facebook recommendations is that Facebook recommendations are not based on a 5-star rating system. They used to be, back when they were simply Facebook “reviews.” Now, when your customers leave a Facebook recommendation, they simply choose to recommend your business or not recommend your business. It’s a “yes or no” system. Like with Google reviews, customers can add feedback and additional content to their recommendations.

Facebook is the most popular social media site in the world. Recommendations help you boost the organic reach of your Facebook business Page so your business gets seen by more potential customers.

As you can imagine, being popular on the biggest social media site will help you expand your reach and grow your business. Facebook recommendations help your business get discovered by more potential customers on Facebook. Building trust on Facebook will make it more likely that users will interact with your Page, such as by messaging you or following your business.

Which Review Site Is Best for Local Businesses?

Short Answer

Give priority to Google, but don’t ignore Facebook.

Longer Answer

Local businesses should get reviews on both Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook are platforms that your customers and potential customers likely use almost every day, just for different reasons. Google reviews will help you perform better in local search results, while Facebook recommendations will help your business get more engagement on social media. At ReviewThread, we almost always recommend that small, local businesses give priority to Google when generating reviews. For businesses that serve a local area, your Google Business Profile is a powerful tool to grow your business with online reviews.

However, we also recommend that you give your customers options to leave reviews. Some of your customers may prefer to leave Google reviews, while others may prefer Facebook. By giving your customers options, you can get reviews on Google and Facebook. The best of both worlds.

If you also have listings on industry-specific review sites, like Houzz for home services, consider adding one of those to the mix as well. I wouldn’t go beyond three options though. Stick with Google, Facebook, and one industry-specific review site listing if you have one. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers with too many options. The more easy and convenient it is for customers to leave a review, the more reviews you will get.

Get More Reviews on Google and Facebook

Don’t wait for your customers to think to review you. Start being proactive with review generation and ask all of your customers to leave a review. Get more reviews on Google and Facebook so you can attract more customers.